What a year!
I'm always surprised when we reach the end of another year.
It's amazing how much we can pack into a mere 12 months!
This week, I've spent some time browsing the many, many, many photos I took this year.
In no particular order, here are 10 of our favourite moments from 2016:
#1 - OUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY
We kicked off the year with a very special family milestone - our 10th wedding anniversary! It's amazing to think about all that has happened in the last decade. If you had told us 10 years ago that we'd now be touring the country with our own music ministry, we would have not-so-discreetly smirked behind your back. We're so thankful for every moment - the challenging and the triumphant. In February, we gathered with family to renew our vows and enjoy an intimate celebration in our new hometown. Just perfect...
#2 - CHANGING LIVES WITH WORLD VISION
2016 marked our first year partnering our ministry with World Vision. In our concerts, we shared the story of our own sponsored child, Keilyn, and it was amazing to see how you responded. There was the woman who found a little boy with the exact same birthday as her grandson, and the man who found a child from the country of his youth. There was the church who decided to share their blessings and sponsor 5 children! And finally, there was the woman who broke our hearts with her powerful story of infertility, but through World Vision, she could finally have the son she always wanted. Each story was unique and beautiful, but the most wonderful thing is knowing how many lives have been changed by your generosity.
#3 - OUR FIRST YEAR IN ST. CATHARINES
After moving 7 times in 9 years, we finally bought a house in our new hometown of St. Catharines! We quickly fell in love with our century home, and we've loved working on projects and seeing our landscape change through the seasons. We've spent countless hours exploring our neighbourhood, our city, and the glorious Niagara region. The most wonderful thing, however, is how much we've been embraced by the local churches. Through worship services, concerts, and the Good Friday Walk, we've truly had a chance to minister to our city.
#4 - EAST COAST TOUR
Touring the East Coast provinces has become one of our favourite parts of the year! This spring, we spent 2 months on the road singing in churches throughout Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and for the first time ever - PEI! And no trip to PEI would be complete without a visit to the beautiful Green Gables. One of the perks of traveling off season - this is one of the biggest tourist sites in Canada, and we practically had the whole place to ourselves!
#5 - TARA JACKSON VISIT
In the summer, we hosted a visit from our sweet friend, Tara Jackson! We explored the St. Catharines and Toronto areas, and yes, stocked up on Costco-sized maple syrup. Some of the most special times were sitting around the dining room table, with Gerald on guitar and the three of us singing in harmony. Hoping for more of this in 2017... hint, hint....
#6 - ADVENT CAFE
Advent Cafe this year! Advent Cafe is a weekly contemporary worship service in the coffee lounge of St. George's Anglican Church in St. Catharines. Utilizing a rotating roster of worship leaders, we've been blessed to lead worship once a month for this wonderful group. In the summer, we moved the service outside and worshipped right on the main street. I even had the chance to preach at one of these outdoor services. A new challenge, but I must have done alright because I've been asked to do it again in February!
#7 - THE FOOD
As we travel, one of our favourite things to discover is culinary delights we could never have at home. In the east, we indulged in fried clams, toutons, fish & brewis, and Jigg's dinner. Traveling west, we tried elk, bison, deer, and birch syrup. Closer to home, we explored the local market scene with fresh produce and homemade grape pie. In this photo, we're enjoying partridgeberry pancakes at the Treasure Box in beautiful Rocky Harbour, NL. So thankful for everyone who hosted us for a meal, and those who birth wonderful little restaurants with local creations.
#8 - ALL 10 PROVINCES!!
This fall, we headed west for our 2nd annual Prairies Road Trip concert tour. We sang in churches of all sizes and denominations throughout Northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. But at the end of October, we had the pleasure of arriving in British Columbia for our first concerts in that province. This marked the completion of a long held dream - to sing in all 10 provinces! I even blogged about it HERE, as a reminder to all of us to keep pursuing your dreams, no matter how long they may take to come true.
#9 - WORKING WITH OTHER ARTISTS
There are few things more special than working with other talented people. This year, we had the chance to make music with some of our very favourite and super talented friends, including a concert with Rhonda Louise, a song session with Sally Meadows, and an inspiring Gaither Homecoming night with our friend & mentor, Allison Speer. In this photo, we're participating in a vocal masterclass with acclaimed singer-songwriter, Mark Masri. A reminder to us all that "iron sharpens iron" ...
#10 - TRAVELING OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY
If you haven't seen all of Canada yet, please plan a trip for next year! From the majesty of the Rockies to the wild scope of the Atlantic, we live in a pretty glorious country. The more we see, the more we want to see. The natural wonders are amazing, but the best thing is to get off the highway, explore the towns, meet the people, and hear their stories. We are so blessed to live in the "true North, strong and free."
We are so grateful for every moment this year - far too many to capture in one blogpost!
A sincere and generous THANK YOU to each and every person who joined our adventures this year.
For those who invited us into your homes and churches, and those who follow and support us online -
we truly couldn't do any of this without you!
We're looking forward to connecting with you all in 2017!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
BONUS MOMENT - STONEBRIDGE VIDEOS
Last year, we were blessed to become a Stonebridge Guitar artist. On a sunny day this fall, we visited Brickhouse Guitars in Kitchener to record some acoustic videos, featuring our beautiful Stonebridge. Since we're still celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas, here's the Christmas one...
And stay tuned for 2 more videos to come in 2017!
Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem
Written & performed by Allison Lynn & Gerald Flemming